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Colombia’s James Rodriguez injured v Senegal

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James Rodriguez limped out of Colombia’s crucial Group H clash with Senegal in Samara.

His 2018 World Cup could be over.

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The Golden Boot winner from the 2014 World Cup looked to suffer a recurrence of the calf injury which kept him out of Colombia’s opening Group H defeat against Japan.

Luis Muriel replaced James in the game but there’s no doubt that Colombia’s offense doesn’t quite click without James, who delivered two classy assists in their 3-0 win against Poland in Group H.

Rodriguez, 26, has been a star for Bayern Munich during the 2017/18 campaign but injuries have impacted the man on loan from Real Madrid.

Colombia will be hoping that the injury to James isn’t too serious as they aim to advance to the last 16 and he would be a key part of any deep run in the tournament.

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Colombia thrash poor Poland, set up must-win vs. Senegal

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Colombia thrashed Poland, to the tune of 3-0, in the two sides’ must-win game in Group H play at the 2018 World Cup on Sunday, getting goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado to leave their destiny in their own hands ahead of Thursday’s decisive group finale against Senegal.

Poland have been eliminated with one group game still to play.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Colombia could have scored two or three goals in the first half, with Cuadrado and Juan Quintero causing constant problems for the left side of the Polish defense, but the necessary finishing touch was consistently lacking until Mina headed home a James Rodriguez cross in the 40th minute.

Poland offered very little, both before or after Mina’s opener, as Robert Lewandowski was effectively contained with the vast majority of his touches coming 30 yards from goal and further out. After disappointing in their tournament-opening loss to Senegal, manager Adam Nawalka made a handful of changes to his lineup — dropping the likes of Arkadiusz Milik, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki — to no avail.

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Despite the scoreline remaining 1-0 for the first 25 minutes of the first half, Poland never looked threatening and were put to the sword by Falcao’s first career World Cup goal (missed the 2014 tournament due to a knee injury), courtesy of Quintero’s seeing-eye through ball.

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James played provider five minutes later, when he slotted what might just be the pass of the tournament across the field, across the Polish defense, and found a streaking Cuadrado with acres of space in front of him. From one end of the field to the other, in no time at all.

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When Colombia (3 points) meet Senegal (4 points) on Thursday, they’ll need a win to overtake them for second place, or for Poland (0 points) to beat Japan (4 points), who currently sit top of the group — but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

Rodriguez out of Colombia starting XI

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Taking a page out of Egypt’s book, Colombia will be without its talismanic playmaker for its first match, Tuesday morning against Japan.

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Juan Fernando Quintero replaced James Rodriguez in Colombia’s starting Xi to take on Japan in Saransk as Colombia coach Jose Pekerman clearly hopes a few extra days of recovery for the injured Rodriguez will help him return to 100 percent fitness. Rodriguez is battling a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez scored six goals and had two assists in five games at the last World Cup in Brazil, helping guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarterfinals appearance.

World Cup Group H Preview: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

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Perhaps the most wide-open group in the entire tournament, Group H is going to be oodles of fun. Of the four teams in the group, only Japan did not get at least one pick to top the group in PST’s writer predictions of the tournament results, and every team was picked to advance through to the knockout round at least once, with only Japan receiving less than two votes to advance.

Colombia: After a promising 3rd place finish in the 2016 Copa America, Colombia barely squeaked into the 2018 World Cup after struggling through a tough CONMEBOL qualification slate. After failing to win in any of its final four qualifying matches, Los Cafeteros have had a weird run-up to the tournament, beating France before a pair of 0-0 draws against Australia and Egypt. Nobody really knows what to expect from Colombia in Russia. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

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Senegal: Sadio Mane is a chic pick as one of the top players to watch in the 2018 World Cup, and Senegal has a surprisingly strong young team. The problem is the attacking support behind Mane, and when teams focus on the Liverpool star, they struggle to produce much else. Still, Senegal got a generous group draw without a clear frontrunner, and that could see them into the knockout round. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Japan: The Samurai Blue is a true dark horse of this tournament, but their strong attacking group will work against them. They have decent star power in Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa, Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki, and former AC Milan attacker Keiuske Honda, but the defense is unbelievably suspect. During the run-up to the World Cup, Japan coughed up six goals in three June matches against Ghana, Switzerland, and Paraguay. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

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Who’s going through: Poland and Colombia

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Who’s going home: Senegal and Japan

Marquee match: Colombia vs. Senegal, June 28 in Volgograd

Top 5 players to watch
1) James Rodriguez — Colombia
2) Robert Lewandowski — Poland
3) Sadio Mane — Senegal
4) Shinji Okazaki — Japan
5) Kalidou Koulibaly — Senegal

2018 World Cup team preview: Colombia

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Getting to know Colombia: Quarterfinalists in Brazil behind an amazing tournament from James Rodriguez, Los Cafeteros face a much tougher road out of the group stage in their sixth World Cup.

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For more history on Colombia, click here.

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What group are they in? Group H. Japan is probably the underdog of the bunch, with Poland, Colombia, and Senegal all capable of claiming top honors

Game schedule – Group H – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Tuesday, June 19: Colombia v Japan, Saransk 8 a.m. ET
Sunday, June 24: Poland v Colombia, Kazan 2 p.m. ET
Thursday, June 28: Senegal v Colombia, Samara 10 a.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-1-4-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Ospina —–

— Arias — D. Sanchez — Mina — Fabra —

— C. Sanchez —

— Cuadrado — James — Uribe — Bacca —

—- Falcao —-


Star player: James Rodriguez — On loan at Bayern, the soon-to-be 27-year-old reclaimed the form that got him from Monaco to Real Madrid. James posted seven goals and 11 assists in just 23 league matches this season, nearly on par with his 13 and 13 in 29 on La Liga debut at Real.


Manager: José Pékerman – The 68-year-old Argentine oversaw the fun run in 2014, and has thrice behind named the South American Coach of the Year.


Secret weapon: Yerry Mina — Barcelona’s 23-year-old center back got some playing time late in his first La Liga season


Prediction: Will battle to advance, and needs to make its statement with an opening win over Japan. Failing that, they are out early. In its last three matches, however, Los Cafeteros have beaten France and shutout Egypt and Australia. Colombia just might push through, and is a nightmare in a one-off situation.